2019-20 Team: Frolunda HC JC, SuperElit
Date of Birth: Feb. 25, 2002
Place of Birth: Bjasta, Sweden
Ht: 5-foot-11 Wt: 172 pounds
NHL Draft Eligibility: 2020 first-year eligible
As a highly skilled and incredibly smart center, Theodor Niederbach has the offensive toolset to be a first-round selection in the 2020 NHL Draft. His hockey IQ is off the charts, as he is able to use his speed and skill to create a goal-scoring chance out of seemingly nothing.
Despite being a natural center, Niederbach has also found success on the wing. In his time playing for his home club in Sweden, Frolunda HC J20, he played at both positions against older competitors, posting 48 points in 40 games, showing that he could offer a lot of versatility at the NHL level.
Related: 2020 NHL Draft Guide
However, if Niederbach has all of this potential, then why is he not a more touted prospect heading into the draft? Well, he has a history of injury that has cost him significant playing time over the years.
The biggest example of this is the 2018-19 season, where he was unable to play a single game due to a knee injury. While he returned to form quickly in 2019-20, that lost season severely hurt his draft stock, with many thinking he might be a mid- to late-round pick if the injury persisted.
As it stands right now, Niederbach is one of the biggest risers heading into the draft, and for good reason. Even if he isn’t a big or physical player, he has a skillset that you just can’t teach.
Other THW Draft Profiles:
Theodor Niederbach – NHL Draft Projection
Niederbach if one of those forwards that could land anywhere at the 2020 NHL Draft. If a team falls in love with his scoring talent and potential upside, he could easily go late in the first round or early in round two.
However, with the injury question mark still hanging over him and a lack of physical play to his game, there’s a chance that teams may pass on Niederbach and take a bigger-bodied forward instead. If this happens, he could slip down the draft board, but it’s unlikely that he would fall out of the second round.
Niederbach has been another big riser for me since debuting in November (173, 156, 73, 78, now 47) — reminiscent of fellow Swede Johannesson, with much the same back story after missing all of last season to injury. The more I watched Niederbach, the more I saw first-round potential…
Larry Fisher – THW
Niederbach can be classified as an offensive-minded forward. He is neither big nor physical, but he plays with a fearlessness on the puck and in or around traffic. He’s an excellent stickhandler with soft hands and is able to delay from any location to survey the ice and identify his options.
He missed the entire 2018-2019 season because of an injury, so he came into his draft season as an unknown to me. He bounced between center and wing for the first 18 games of the season, and actually played more at wing.
- Great hockey IQ with high-end playmaking skills
- Can make something out of nothing
- Versatile forward who can play at center or on the wing
Under Construction (Improvements to Make)
- Past knee injuries are always concerning
- No real physical presence in his game
- Smaller player who lacks NHL size right now
Even if all breaks right for Niederbach, he would likely be at least three-years out from breaking into the NHL. While his offensive skills are there, he simply wouldn’t be ready to take on playing time against men just yet. He will need some time in the AHL to adjust to the North American game as well, meaning that he would be a bit of a project.
However, if given the right opportunities, Niederbach has the potential to develop into a second-line scorer. He has everything that you want for that role, and he could be a playmaking monster by the time that he hits his mid-twenties.
Risk – 4/5, Reward – 5/5
Whenever you have a smaller forward with a history of knee issues, you have to be aware that there is risk involved when drafting him. While Niederbach has top-end skill and potential, one or two setbacks with that injury could completely derail his NHL career.
If a team is willing to take a risk and give him some time to develop, though, he could be that late-first-round pick that everyone scratches their head at in the moment, but becomes the steal of the draft.